Little Miss Country Girl

The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes,
and surely it is in the everyday things around us
that the beauty of life lies.

It is the sweet, simple things of life
which are the real ones, after all.

~Laura Ingalls Wilder~

Sweet little darling,
firecracker passion,
strawberry seed freckles,
your blue eyes now grey-green.
Work beside me,
hold my hand,
rest in the comfort
of learning alongside
this mama learning too
and who could imagine nothing better
than walking life with you.

My own sweet little country girl, helping her mama, seeking to grow up far too fast into my shoes.
She delights in ducks, water hoses, garden soil, butterfly wings, ripe strawberries, and fresh basil.
She finds comfort in holding hands, being close, and conversing about all the deep things she carries in her heart.
She seeks to be far too grown up far too quickly, but not because she really tries to – simply because she is a mature little starlet, truly an old soul.

As the years pass,
I am coming more and more to understand
that it is the common, everyday blessings
of our common everyday lives
for which we should be particularly grateful.

~Laura Ingalls Wilder~

Feeling At Home

It seems to me that women typically experience shame about two things~
their bodies and their homes.

… What people are craving isn’t perfection.
People aren’t longing to be impressed;
they’re longing to feel like they’re home.

If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul,
they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest,
no matter how small,
no matter how undone,
no matter how odd.

…it isn’t about perfection, and it isn’t about performance.
You’ll miss the richest moments in life—
the sacred moments when we feel God’s grace and presence
through the actual faces and hands of the people we love—
if you’re too scared or too ashamed to open the door.

~Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine, p109~

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Home and body. Yes. These are definitely the two places where I feel most tempted to adhere to unrealistic standards. Where I grasp for perfection. Where I give in too easily to fears. Where I do not hold open hands. Where I look and focus. Where my eyes and heart are distracted.

I don’t want to miss the sacred moments because I am navel-gazing.
I don’t want to miss out on how much my children love to snuggle me because I’m soft instead of flat.
I don’t want to miss out on how much joy a messy, lived-in home brings my family & friends because I worry it won’t look well-cared-for enough.
I don’t want to miss out on sharing my home.
I don’t want to miss out on sharing my body.

I want to open my home with wild abandon at a moment’s notice and not worry about what others think of me because of what my home does or doesn’t look like.

I want to relinquish my fears, giving my body with joyful recklessness to my husband without worrying that he will be bothered by the increase of grey hairs, wrinkles, spider veins, or softly thickening rolls.

I want to use my home and my body in ways that please God and glorify Him, rather than worry about whether we look like the moms and homes in ads or magazines.

My home is an extension of my body.
My body is another type of home.

They are very connected.

Not only was my body the first home of thirteen children,
I want my body to still feel like home to my family.
I want my embrace to feel like home to my children and my husband.


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Sometimes I just have to admit to my husband, I don’t feel at home in my own skin.
But the thing is, it is more important that my body feels like home to my family than that I feel at home in it.

You know that feeling of rest, of haven, of comfort ~ that feeling you get when you are home?
That may be in the home of your parents, your childhood home, perhaps even a grandparent’s home.
That may be your current home, the home of your newlywed season, the home of your childbearing years.
I have the feeling we will feel that feeling in different places. Maybe in multiple places.

But I think I really feel most at home in the embrace of people I love.
When my mama lets me rest my head on her shoulder. She feels like home to me.
When my husband intertwines limbs with me and lets me rest my head on his chest. He feels like home to me.
When my children press their little bodies up against mine and snuggle into every nook and cranny and curve. They feel like home to me.

It isn’t about outward appearances.
It isn’t about perfection.
It isn’t about what the world thinks.

It is about feeling at home. It’s about others, not myself.
It’s about comfort and grace and being used up for the sake of life & joy.

I want to feel at home. In my house and in my own skin.
But more than that, I want others to feel at home. In my house and in my embrace.
I want to create a physical home that is a haven.
I want to use up my physical self for life and joy.

Ultimately, I wasn’t made for this world anyway.
My real home is heaven.
And I have generations on either side of me already there.
I can’t wait to be at home with them.


Three Years of Home

Three years ago today, we left our first home and moved to our own home ~ one we designed ourselves, had built by a friend, and which was not complete when we moved in. But we have spent the last three years nurturing, training, and fellowshipping with one another in this home, and we have worked to finish some things in the house along the way. But the best part? That this house is a place we have made our home, by God’s grace and provision. We designed this house to be a place of hospitality ~ primarily for our family, specifically for our children ~ but also for friends, brethren, neighbors. Just last month we had thirty people from our new church over to eat and sing with us, and we’ve had four different families over for meals and a few playdates too. Just in the last month. Because the Lord is good! And because we have a home which we want to use for His service, blessing His people, and nurturing the people He has put in our care.

A place of rest while we are on this earth.
A safe place for our children.
A place to love and be loved.
A place that is beautiful.
A haven.
With enough money, anyone can create a pretty house.
But it takes intention to create a home.
~Myquillyn Smith, The Nesting Place, p181

THEN (2011):

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NOW (2014):

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One of my top priorities for my home is for it to be a place of beauty. Notice I didn’t say I want my home to be perfect. Also, I really don’t care for it to be expensive. Beauty is something altogether different. I’ve yet to meet a woman who wants her home to be ugly. Enjoying beautiful things is part of being human. It is how God made us.
~Myquillyn Smith, The Nesting Place, p68

Proverbs 14:1
The wisest of women builds her house,
    but folly with her own hands tears it down.

If you stay anywhere long enough, it will start to accumulate some shadows.
And those shadows make it no less beautiful. It makes it something like home.
It anchors you there in ways that a steady diet of pleasantness never will.
~Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine, p235

Proverbs 24:3-4
By wisdom a house is built,
    and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled
    with all precious and pleasant riches.

Let the earth bring forth grass

Take a look at the transformation our home had yesterday. What a true blessing!!

Psalm 147:7-8

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
Sing praises on the harp to our God,
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who prepares rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.

Genesis 1:11-12

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Loving a wee layer of snow

Our home looks so lovely covered with a wee layer of snow. Enough to cover up the vestiges of the construction site and lack of yard, but not enough to require plowing yet. It’s the best of both worlds. 🙂

The boys and I went out to enjoy the frosty world. Okay, let’s rephrase that: Asher slept through it in some awesome cuddly coziness, I tolerated the cold biting my legs through my jeans (one of these days I need to unpack my snow gear!) and took pictures, and Gabriel thoroughly enjoyed the frostiness of the world around our home. Picture perfect examples? You got it.


Moving In!

We’re making progress! We’re in the house! And I have been able to do a good bit of unpacking. The house will continue to be worked on while we live in it, so it’s definitely a work-in-progress, but we are so thankful to have moved before Baby arrives! Now we are settling in a little at a time, and I am trying to convince myself that it’s actually time to start focusing on Baby. Because I don’t think this next week or so is going to be very slow in passing!

Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement. The Lord’s goodness is so abundant and we are extremely thankful. The beautifully falling snow that keeps layering frosting on all the roads and trees and fields and hills is just one more evidence of His sweet presence. It is the most beautiful thing to wake up in our very own home with a view out the windows that looks like it’s straight from a picture-postcard!

I will update as I can… which will be easier once we have internet at our house. 🙂 In the meantime, this was our first breakfast in our new house together as a family.

Twelve more hours

In twelve hours, God willing, the U-Haul truck will be sitting in our driveway, ready to be filled with [most of] our earthly possessions! Crazy. Super duper incredibly insanely crazy.

Things are slowly falling into place. While we are “moving” tomorrow, we are not sure when we will be living there. It may be a few days yet, or we may just rush in and stay there right away. We’re playing it a little by ear, you could say. Thankfully my parents are next door and their guest room is all set up for us, so if we need to crash there, we are always welcome. What a blessing that is!

To think that this is our last night here in this house is surreal. I’ve lived here for 6 1/2 years. It’s the only place I have ever lived with my Steven or my Gabriel. It is the only house where all nine of my children have lived. It the house where seven of them have died. I have horrible memories here. And I have fantastically beautiful memories here. It is bittersweet to leave our home here for our new home. I can’t put it into words. As I sit here with bare walls, and rooms filled with boxes, I am reminded that my home is not here on earth. These things are all temporary, transitory. Thanks be to God for giving us homes and material things here on earth to make these temporary homes so enjoyable, so beautiful, so tangible! But also, thanks be to God for giving us the future and the hope of our eternal glorious home with Him and our complete family in heaven!

Here’s a sneak peek at a few rooms in our house today… and hopefully I can update with some “move” pictures soon!

Kitchen, kitchen eating area, stairway (and front door), master bedroom, nursery, guest bath.

And did I mention that there are about 8 inches of snow at our new house right now?!! Just to add to the insanity of this whole process….


So I am a couple weeks behind on posting anything about our new house… but we are still moving at the end of next week! I know: insane, right? 😉

But a couple of weeks ago I did remember to take some pictures of progress, and this is one (okay, two…) of my favorites. Gabriel wanted to help paint his new bedroom, and we documented a wee bit of the process.

Casting Anxieties

1 Peter 5:6-7

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”

This is something I am praying daily for strength to do. Particularly right now, I have anxieties about the house-building and moving timing, and anxieties about Baby Nine’s life. These are big things in our life and there are big anxieties associated with these big things. But they are not too big for Christ. I am called to cast my anxieties on Him, no matter their size or weight. And why am I called to cast my anxieties on Him? Because He cares for me! HE cares for ME! How incredible is that! My anxieties are not too big for Him, but they also are not too small. He cares about the little details that press upon my heart. Christ is not one to roll His eyes and tell me to get over it: His method is to enfold me in His mercy and carry the weight for me.

I am anxious about how the house is going to come together in under four weeks… but each day, God is showing me things that He is accomplishing out there and reminding me that He is faithful. No matter what gets done, no matter what is left undone: He is faithful and will provide for our needs in all of it.

I am anxious about Baby Nine’s life… in fact, when I was lying awake during the night last night and wasn’t feeling him move, I laid there crying and just asking God to give me the comfort of kicks or wiggles. I still fight fear daily that he will die. When I rolled over and laid on my stomach (which I know he doesn’t like…), he started wiggling, and my tears of anxiety changed to tears of thankfulness as I finally fell back asleep. It is so hard to hold my children with open hands, no matter their age. But these children are HIS, ultimately they do not belong to me at all. I am praying for bigger faith and trust as He cares for these, His children, in whatever ways His providence has ordained as best.

I realize that the life of the Christian is one of daily giving up our anxieties to God and hourly placing ourselves at His feet. As I continue to grow in my knowledge of Him and His character, I want to grow in my faith and ability to cast all my anxieties at His feet and lay all my burdens on His shoulders. May the Father strengthen and enable me for this enormous task of daily Christian-living.

Works in Progress

With (give or take…) six weeks until moving and eight weeks until Baby Nine arrives, we are very occupied with our works in progress. Take a peek below at the two biggest projects of 2011 and the awe-inspiring work God has been doing in, with, and for our family this year. We are humbled and thankful beyond words.